“It’s like using an elephant gun as a flyswatter.”
— Sen. David Haley, D-Kansas City, speaking on the Senate floor about why opposes legislation that requires mandatory drug testing for public school teachers.
“I’m so frustrated people like Paul Davis would rail on the governor what the Legislature’s doing, but when he has a chance to fix it, he doesn’t do it. It was personal at anybody who’s going to say we shouldn’t have cut taxes.”
— Rep. Scott Schwab, R-Olathe, defending an amendment he introduced to a tax bill but did not support, which would have undone 2012’s income tax cuts. Democrats called it political theater, but Schwab said he was giving them the opportunity to vote for what they wanted. It was defeated 122-0.
That’s about how much more money legislators would be paid in a year if HB 2740 becomes law. It was introduced by Rep. Virgil Peck, R-Tyro.
Rep. Marc Rhoades, R-Newton, and Rep. Kasha Kelley, R-Arkansas City, stole the show at the Legislature this week. Ever since the Supreme Court ordered the Legislature to fix school inequities on March 7, Kansans have waited for the Republican plan. On Thursday evening it was unveiled – only it wasn’t the plan that Gov. Sam Brownback, House Speaker Ray Merrick or Senate President Susan Wagle expected to see.
Unbeknownst to Merrick, Rhoades and Kelley added language that would have allowed for rapid expansion of public charter schools in Kansas. The schools would be publicly funded, but privately run and free of most of the regulations of traditional public schools. By Friday morning, House leadership announced plans to introduce a new bill that would strike these provisions.
Merrick referred to the school finance bill as a “hiccup.” But this was a pretty big hiccup. Republican leaders still need to introduce their real plan and hope it makes it through the legislative process unscathed. The Legislature faces a July 1 deadline to fix inequities. Democrats have a simple plan to level funding between districts, but Republicans say if they’re going to spend new money then they want to get some policy changes, too. The “hiccup” on Thursday night showed the risk in that approach.
— Bryan Lowry
For more legislative news, go to www.kansas.com/politics and follow @BryanLowry3 on Twitter.